The way we make sense of the world is through a #psychological process called #perception. Input from the environment is processed through our senses and combined in perception to enable us to respond appropriately. However, as often is the case with psychology, it’s more complicated than this. Perception is not only influenced by our senses, it is influenced by our many other variables including our expectations, experience and socialization. How we ‘see’ the world is a result of multiple internal and external factors which means we are often fooled into thinking what we see is what there is.

Optical illusions are a great way to demonstrate this. Even when they are explained to us, it’s usually difficult to ‘see’ the reality. Take for example the checkerboard illusion ( A and B look different. But are they? In the 2nd image, A and B have been connected by a solid bar intended to show that the squares are the same colour. It is difficult not to see the bar as shaded from dark at the top to light at the edge it joins B, but the bar, A and B are all the same colour! In presentations I’ve animated the grey square A so it moves to square B, yet viewers struggle to believe I haven’t changed the colour. Try it yourself and read an explanation here.

There are hundreds of optical illusions, not least the image at the top of this blog. This is a variation of the Muller-Lyer illusion called Puslating Star developed by Gianni Sarcone, an author artist and designer. If you think the arrows are moving, think again! Follow this link to find out how you’re being fooled and read about many more variations of the Muller-Lyer illusion. Find out more about Gianni Sarcone here.

In the context of #fashion, my favourite illusion is ‘the dress’ which had everyone talking some years ago. Is the dress while and gold or blue and black? @ResearchDigest wrote about investigations by neuroscientists concerned with why different people saw the dress differently. They discovered some interesting results. Read Research Digest’s synopsis here.

Without doubt, perception and optical ilusions are fascinating, but did you know that illusions are not limited to vision? Our behaviour is often the result of cognitive illusions, otherwise known as cognitive biases. That’s the topic of a future blog.

For now, I hope I’ve convinced you that (i) perception is fundamental in understanding our world and (ii) perception is easily fooled. Perception matters in all aspects of fashion, from design to disposal of our garments. Find out more about how we make sense of our fashion world in my one-day course taking place in London on 28th April. Find out more and book your place here. Please email me with enquiries about accessibility and concessions.